wo years ago, a crowd congregated at the corner of North Albina Avenue and Ainsworth Street on a golden summer afternoon in North Portland. Neighbors, members of the Portland Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and local project team members erupted in applause as Chris PooleJones and then-Portland Mayor Sam Adams cut the ribbon on the June Key Delta Community Center. More than a decade after procuring the site of a dilapidated gas station, the Delta Sorority — under Poole-Jones’ leadership — realized its dream of transforming a brownfield and neighborhood eyesore into a deep green community center. This is where the majority of green building profiles end. A site is transformed, and the reader is urged to extrapolate that the transformation will extend to the building’s occupants and the surrounding community. We in the building industry are enamored with groundbreakings, openings and first-of-its-kind certifications. After that, it’s on to the next project. In reality, the real work of place-making and building performance begins after the wide-angle photographs are taken and the two ends of ribbon flutter to the ground. The International Living Future Institute profiled the inspiring grassroots effort that led to the construction of the June Key Delta Center in Trim Tab Magazine after its grand opening in 2011. Two years later, I was curious to find out if the building was still doing its part to foster community in North Portland.
© INTERNATIONAL LIVING FUTURE INSTITUTE (all images)
Chris Poole-Jones happened to be attending a monthly Delta Sorority leadership committee meeting when I stopped by the center on a humid, overcast evening. I thought about offering to come back another time, but she assured me she was always happy to talk about the building and the people who use it.